Saturday, August 29, 2015


This afternoon I'm sewing together the rest of the floral and white Disappearing Four Patch blocks, and I noticed one detail that should be mentioned.  When cutting the two part block into 6 pieces, be SURE to ALWAYS position it the same way on the cutting board.  For instance, if the darker fabric is on the left, ALWAYS position it on the left.

Likewise, when laying out all 12 pieces for the complete block, ALWAYS lay them out with the lights and darks in the same positions.  Failure to do this will lead to seams that don't nest properly.  And nicely nesting seams are really the whole point of making the block with this method.

It's amazing how a simple mistake in arrangement can result in "orphan" blocks!  Good luck with your sewing!

Friday, August 28, 2015


This past week I was sidetracked into a diversion, within a digression, within a detour, within a UFO.  The "tutorial" on the Disappearing Four Patch" block was made with a package of 5" square cuts of batiks, one pack of blues/purples and one pack of pale beiges.  These were new at the Fabric Nook, and I found them irresistible.

I had recently loaned them quilt #12, the Tradewinds, made this summer, and Brenda told me that the rest of the 2 1/2" strips in that colour sold right away.  It really helps to have a sample showing off the fabrics!  So I got the idea of making a table runner from these new 5" squares.  It went together quickly and looks great.  I brought it in yesterday for them to hang.  Hope it helps to sell those pkgs. of 5" squares.  It can also function as an advertisement for the class I will teach in the library in September.

It was fun to make and looks lovely.

So now I can go back from this "diversion" to the "digression" that preceded it.  Another Disappearing Four Patch, but this time a lap quilt, that I'm making as a sample to inspire, also preparatory to the class in September.  I've got 18 of 30 blocks made so far, and the squares for the other 12 are cut and ready to be sewed.  This time they are floral pastels teamed with some of that lovely white on white with little flowers that I bought a whack of when it was marked down to $7.39 a meter.

Usually instructions for a Disappearing Four Patch say to cut the block 1" from the center seams.  I like to cut it 1 1/2" from the center.  Aside from the pieces being slightly bigger and thus easier to handle, I just think it makes the block look a little more balanced.

After this is finished, I'll go back and get the borders on the Picket Fence quilt and finish the machine quilting and binding, and THEN I can go back and put the borders on the "Cascades" quilt, the really, really big one.  

It's all a matter of what will be needed when.  The "Cascades" quilt needs to be finished by the end of September, the other two, the Picket Fence and the Disappearing Four Patch, are needed the middle of September.  

I'd better not start any more projects!  As tempting as that always is!

Saturday, August 22, 2015


A few times each year Jim is invited to preach in a church in Rocky Mountain House.  They always ask that I play organ for the service, and I'm happy to oblige.  They have a fairly decent organ, and it's a group that really loves to sing.

We used to go three weeks at a time and do two services each of the three weeks.  It's a two hour drive from here, and services are at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.  Last year we found that that was a bit too much for us to handle, so now we limit it to one service a Sunday. Tomorrow is one of those Sundays.

I don't have, and have never had, an organ in the house, so I go to a local church to practice the week before we go there.  A friend of mine, an organist in a church here, loans me her church key and I go three or four times in that week to get the music ready. Since I play only once or twice a year, I need to work on it pretty seriously to have new music ready and secure.

This past week I was "under the weather" due to not enough sleep, and feeling listless, so I never got out there to practice until Thursday.  Went again on Friday, but the church is busy today, so I can't practice there.  Practicing on my piano helps, but doesn't do much for practicing the pedals.  So I pretend I'm playing pedals, which helps a little bit.

Today I had a "bright" (maybe) idea: I would put together a pretend pedalboard.  I used a yardstick and children's building blocks to approximate the black pedals.  That should give a bit more of a "pedalboard" feeling to it.  It did, sort of:

Makes me think it might be worthwhile to construct a facsimile of a pedalboard.  Could be done!

Friday, August 21, 2015


One of the quilts I made last spring was a Disappearing Four Patch.  At first I followed the usual method.  You can find lots of tutorials on the net showing how to make this simple block.  But I was unhappy with the result because not all seams "nested" and this was a special problem when sewing blocks together,  So I worked out a method that created a block with all seams pressed toward the dark fabric.

I agreed to teach this technique as a beginner quilting class at the library here in town on Sept. 17, and also next spring at a Pieceful Stitchers meeting.  So this week I thought I should do some review in preparation, and also print up some instructions on how to sew the block this way.

Unfortunately, I couldn't remember how I did it!  I know it involved leaving some seams unfinished until you knew where the block would fit in the finished quilt, and then sewing and pressing them according to what direction you needed them to fit together smoothly.  I fiddled with the block this way and that.

Finally, I came up with an altogether different method, and this one WORKS LIKE A CHARM!!!  So here's the new method:
1.  Start with two dark fabrics and two light fabrics, each 5" x 5", for each block       (Yesterday I bought two sets of fabrics, already cut to 5" x 5", but found I did need to trim them to that size.  They were just slightly bigger.)
2.  Sew one dark fabric square to one light fabric square.  Repeat.  DO NOT sew these  two double squares together!  That's the usual method for disappearing four patch.
3.  Cut each double block as follows:
1 1/2" on either side of the center seams   AND
1 3/4" from the side of the double block, crossing the center seam.

   The cut block will look like this:

4.  Arrange the cut pieces from the two double blocks in order next to your sewing machine.

5.  Place the middle piece of the top row face down on the first piece of the top row. Repeat with all middle pieces.  Chain piece them together.  Don't cut them apart.
6.  Now do this same procedure with the third piece of each row.  In the photo only the top piece has been placed where it belongs.

7.  Press all seams toward the dark fabric.  They will line up in alternating rows.

8.  Sew the three horizontal seams.
9.  Pull apart or stitch-rip the cross seam of the center intersection of each of these last three seams IN THE SEAM ALLOWANCE. 

The intersections will turn into tiny, tiny four patches on the wrong side of the block.  You can see them in a vertical line up the center of the block.

10. Now you can press these last three seams all toward the dark fabric where they reach the outside of the block.  There will be places on the inside of the block where the dark fabric presses toward the light fabric, but THE CRUCIAL SEAMS on the outside of the
block will all press toward the dark fabric.

You've made a beautiful, perfect Disappearing Four Patch block!  Because you've sewed the block together in this unorthodox fashion, you can now NICELY NEST all the seams when sewing your blocks together!

Please leave a comment or send me an email ( if you've found this helpful.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


The Cascades quilt is quilted--a simple stitch-in-the-ditch, along each side of the sashings.  Next come sewing on the borders and binding, and then quilting the borders.  I think a feather pattern would look good in the border.  That's something I've never done before, so it will "stretch" me a little, and that's almost always a good thing.

I have felt quite "stretched" lately, trying to catch up after all the company, plus there was an issue with my only sister that really took the starch out of me.  So today I decided to kind of "lean back" and just enjoy myself.

This is how I did that: I laid out a plastic table cloth with a flannel backing, backing side up on the living room floor and arranged all the blocks for the "Picket Fence" quilt.  Using a table cloth for that is a trick I learned from Monica Bishop this spring.  I had heard of using the back of a plastic tablecloth as a design wall, but this was a version of that.  If you lay out your blocks on the back of the tablecloth, you can roll up the table cloth to transport the blocks, and they will stay where you've put them.  It's a great idea.

Today, however, I never rolled the cloth up.  Instead I picked up each vertical row in order, pinned a memo on top labelling the row by number.  Then I was able to confidently sew them together a la Bonnie Hunter's "Webbing the Top" method.  You can find directions for that on her website,  I read her blog all the time, and have often used her patterns.  She's a real resource for quilters!

Sunday, August 16, 2015


Last week Saturday was beautiful weather.  Yesterday was dark and cold and followed a lot of rain.  What a contrast!  We're glad for the rain, and we can surely put up with some dark, cold weather as the usual here is bright and sunny.  Today has been sunny, but now the clouds are building again.

We had our plumbers here to do maintenance on our furnace this past Wednesday.  It's a very small wall unit, very efficient, for a hot water heating system.  It was new just a few years ago.

On Friday I went into the basement for something and thought I smelled gas.  Yesterday and throughout last night we left the doors to the doors to the basement open to help dry up what had come in because of the very big rainstorm the night before.  This morning I smelled gas, fairly strong, throughout the house, so we called the plumber a little after eight o'clock.

He came right away and did find a slow leak where the gas line is connected to the furnace.  He fixed it, and reassured me that anytime I smell gas, even if it's in the middle of the night, I should call right away!  I had apologized for calling him on Sunday morning when I know he works very hard with long hours every week.  In fact, when he came here he had already been working for four hours.  That's about as demanding as when a doctor is on call!  Chris is a really nice guy, and we're happy to have a good plumber--especially in a situation like that!

I'll catch up a little here with pictures from the Saturday morning that we were celebrating with our kids, grandkids and Jim's sister (back in July!).  I had sent everyone a sort of agenda for the weekend, and Saturday morning, 10 a.m. was listed as a "Treasure Hunt."  I had spread all the quilts I've been making since February out on beds in the garage and gave everyone a piece of paper to write down their first, second and third choices.  Only two didn't get their first choice, but those two were very happy with what they did get.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


This morning I found time to spray baste the top to the batting/backing of the Cascades quilt.  Quilters are either Pinners, Baste-ers, or Sprayers, and I'm a confirmed sprayer.  A can of 505 holds the layers together so well, that it's worth the cost, especially when handling such a large quilt.  This will be 105" x 105" when finished.

You can see that it needs the borders sewed on yet.  That's a small strategy to reduce the amount of fabric on the machine at once.  I very often quilt a large quilt in sections, but because this one is put together on point that wasn't a very good choice.  It would give problems with cutting out and using the backing material.  

That's a whole lot of quilt to put through the machine, but you can see in this photo how "slim" the rolled up side is.  There's no problem fitting it through the throat of the Horizon.  The machine is set here to sew one of the two closest-to-the-middle seams.  I'm ditch-stitching on either side of the sashing.  The top thread is a dark invisible thread and the bobbin thread is a dull brown that almost disappears on the printed backing.

I spent two hours stitching today, and just made a start on how much is to be done.  There's a certain amount of pressure to this, as I would like the quilt to be completely finished by the time we leave for Arizona.

Yesterday S. picked cherries.  Together we pitted them and then I froze them on cookie sheets.  When finished there were almost three gallons of Evans cherries ready to be used in pie, or, as we prefer, in little tarts.  

We've been eating a whole lot of fresh peas the past few weeks (two separate plantings) and now we're started on green beans.  Frozen green beans don't appeal to me very much, but fresh green beans, picked between 12 and 1 and served at 2 for dinner--well that's a treat!  

Saturday, August 8, 2015


It's a pluperfect summer Saturday afternoon.  After a gloomy, rainy (much needed) day on Thursday we had a glorious Friday and today's the same.  On the balcony in the sun the temperature is 30ºC (86ºF).  On the patio behind the house in the shade, it's probably somewhere comfortable in the 70's F.  The windows are open letting in a refreshing breeze and I'm spending time at the sewing machine.  Bach's Brandenburg Concerti are on the CD player.  I'm feeling blissful!

During the week I sew quite purposefully, that is, to get those quilts made!  But on the weekends I let myself sew just for fun.  So today I'm back to the "Picket Fences" quilt. Here's a completed quarter block:

I will be demonstrating this block to the Pieceful Stitchers in September, and I always like to have a completed sample made for inspiration, so there is a certain amount of "purposefulness" to this afternoon's sewing.  But, hey, it's a beautiful summer Saturday so I don't even mind that I need to pick out stitches here and there.

The light coloured section is supposed to be on the right hand of the bottom strip.  Even on the simplest block it's possible to make mistakes!

Regarding Thursday's dumb mistake--I simply sewed the ripped-off piece of fabric back onto the backing.  Too bad to have a pieced backing when that wasn't necessary, but this quilt is for us, so it's no big deal.  We won't even notice it when it's on the bed.  Just so long as the top turns out well, and, so far, it seems that it will.

Here are a few snaps of how the four grandkids spent much of their time during our reunion:

Used to be when the grandkids were here we had a very busy time keeping them amused.  Now they amuse themselves, all four of them at the same time.  I'm just not so sure this is a good idea.  Perhaps it's better to spend time reading, sewing, knitting and playing games together!

Thursday, August 6, 2015


Mistakes are easy to make!  But sometimes the stupidity of what I've done overwhelms me.  Today I'm putting together the backing, batting and top of a quilt that I started a few years ago, the "Cascades" quilt.

Last year I bought a beautiful piece of 110" wide batik backing for that quilt.  I laid it out on the floor downstairs this morning.

It's 110" x 134".  The quilt needs to finish at 105" x 105" to be floor to floor on our bed in Arizona.

It's a really beautiful piece of fabric.

I spread out my roll of Hobbs backing, which measures 101" in width.  I figured I need to add a small strip to the width to make the batting wide enough for the quilt.  In the picture the batting is still folded in half.

I cut the batting at 110", giving myself an extra 5" around the quilt top.  Then I trimmed off the extra length of backing, unfolded the full width of the batting, and then I MADE THE MISTAKE!  I also trimmed off the "extra width" of the backing.  EEEEKKK!!!!

I didn't even realize what I had done until I laid out the quilt top, which at this stage is still lacking the borders.  I had figured that with the extra length and width the quilt could be made slightly bigger, maybe 107" or 108" wide and long.

Something was strange when I laid the quilt top on top of the batting/backing.  I didn't have room left for the full borders, even at 105".

It took me a few minutes to realize what was wrong.  I should NOT have trimmed off the  "extra width" of the backing!

What to do?  Well, I guess I have to sew back on the "extra width" of the backing that I ripped off a few minutes ago.  OUCH!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


When I was preparing quilts for all the kids and grandkids to come for our anniversary celebration I figured on 12.  Then one grandson and his significant other had to back out.  That meant I had enough at 10 quilts.  Then Jim's sister said she would come.  At that point I lost count of how many were ready.  All the blocks for the 12th quilt had been made, but not sewn together.  So I sewed them together and then realized I was oversupplied.

After the whole gang left to go home again I sat down and sewed on the borders and quilted #12.  This morning I put on the binding.  Number 12 is all done and ready to go. For the first bit I will loan it to IDA, our local quilting shop, as an enticement for others to buy the strip sets I used in making it.

The pattern is "Tradewinds" and the strip set is called "Falling for You" because of the fall colours.  The colour combination makes me think of the 70's with its oranges and browns.  It will be donated to the Pieceful Stitchers club to be used as a "comfort quilt" in case of local need.

Monday, August 3, 2015


This past weekend we attended the 100th Anniversary celebration of the last church we served, Neerlandia, AB.  It was a delightful weekend.

Saturday morning was cool and breezy.  It looked as if rain showers might develop.  But we were fortunate: it turned into a perfect midsummer day.  Enough breeze to keep a person cool, and enough sun to make everything shine.

First up was the building of a 2/3 size replica of the original log church.  These fellows were having fun!

Dale unlocked the parsonage for me so I could check out all the upgrades that had been made since we left.  When we arrived there in September of 1993 the house had been recently renovated: sunshine ceiling and new cupboards and flooring in the kitchen; new carpeting and painting throughout.  I thought at that time that it was a very nice home.  With all that has been done since, it's a lovely modern home.  Their last pastor left recently, so there is no one living in the house right now.

We passed the morning visiting with many friends.  My friend Cora and I spent time solving the "Graveyard Trivia Quiz."  I guess we thought we were more interesting
than the headstones, as this is the picture I came home with from that part of the morning!

The eats were organized somewhat like a carnival.  You could purchase tickets for $1 each and with them you could buy Dutch treats (whipped cream filled pastries), coffee, tea, hot dogs, hamburgers, etc.

When Jim and I decided it was lunchtime there was a huge long lineup for the lunch tent.  We decided to get a pastry instead, and that lasted us just fine until the supper at 5:30.

There was a "penny carnival" for kids, a slide show of members' pictures and their comments about being part of this church.  There was a "Dress Up Photography" set up.  These two sisters chose to appear as travelling ladies in the 40's--or thereabouts.  I had taught violin to the daughter of the woman in green, and enjoyed and still do, a fulfilling relationship with them.

I returned to watch the building of the log church replica occasionally throughout the day.  The fellows worked very hard, even though the day was quite hot by mid-afternoon.  They didn't manage to finish the building, but that didn't seem important.

It turned out so cute and attractive.  They had thought to maybe auction it off to help fund the "Honduras Trip" that the young people make to help a needy church in South America, but the log cabin proved such a hit that people are saying, "No! Keep it and use it for a meeting place."  The original log cabin was not valued when the first lumber church was built.  Maybe this replica will pay homage to those early settlers who scrimped and saved to have a humble place of worship.

Supper was served buffet style and was absolutely delicious. We enjoyed salads, buns, barbecued beef and desserts.  There was plenty for everyone and we all sat around and visited after the meal.  I was sitting next to the gentleman with his back to the camera, the oldest man in the congregation at 95 and still a good companion at the dinner table.
In the evening we all went into the sanctuary for a long, interesting program.  I'll post some more about that tomorrow.